Go beyond indecision and indiscretion to introspection and inspiration
“What should I do now?” We frequently face this question when life’s perplexities disrupt our routines. We usually respond based on not just the external situation, but also our internal mood at the moment. As our mood often changes randomly, its unpredictability often worsens our perplexity.
Gita wisdom helps us understand that our moods derive from the modes, which are subtle forces that shape our interactions with matter. The Bhagavad-gita (14.10) indicates that the three modes are in perpetual conflict within our consciousness. Let’s look at the typical mood induced by each of the modes:
- Indecision: Characteristic of the mode of ignorance, indecision prevents us from both thinking clearly and acting decisively. Sometimes, indecision degenerates into self-pity, frustration and even senseless violence.
- Indiscretion: Triggered by the mode of passion, indiscretion goads us towards acting without thinking. Usually, indiscretion aggravates our perplexity.
- Introspection: Stimulated by the mode of goodness, introspection enables us to think carefully for ascertaining the best course of action and then act calmly for implementing it. For our introspection to work soundly, it needs to be guided by scriptural instruction.
- Inspiration: Gifted by the indwelling Lord, the Supersoul, who exists beyond the three modes, inspiration resolves the entire perplexity in one moment of epiphany.
These four moods are not always discrete; they frequently comprise a spectrum with indecision and indiscretion on the negative side, and introspection and inspiration on the positive side. Inspiration is usually not in our hands, but introspection surely is. Even when we feel indecisive or indiscreet, we can make our introspection active and effective by seeking appropriate scriptural instruction.
This, in fact, is what Arjuna did in the Bhagavad-gita: though he was paralyzed by indecision in the beginning, he utilized introspection and instruction to become enlivened by inspiration.
“Sometimes the mode of goodness becomes prominent, defeating the modes of passion and ignorance, O son of Bharata. Sometimes the mode of passion defeats goodness and ignorance, and at other times ignorance defeats goodness and passion. In this way there is always competition for supremacy.”